Crimetracker: Campbell County school shooter could get trial

LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. (WVLT)--Kenny Bartley is one step closer to getting his guilty plea thrown out and standing trial for the first time. He's the 14 year-old convicted of shooting and killing a Campbell County assistant principal and wounding two others in 2005. The Tennessee Criminal Court of Appeals granted Bartley's request for a trial.

We talked to dozens of people in Campbell County about the ruling. They all remember the shooting, and the reaction is mixed. Some tell us Bartley should stay behind bars. However, one woman said Bartley was young and he should get a fair trial. One thing is for sure, if Bartley stands trial it will open up a lot of old wounds.

In 2005, Kenny Bartley was handcuffed and stuffed in the back of a patrol car with blood splatters on his shirt. In 2011, Bartley took the stand asking for a trial. He talked about how he felt before the last trial. Kenny Bartley says, "I was nervous, ashamed, uncomfortable. I didn't know what to do really."

Bartley pleaded guilty and got 45 years in prison for killing Assistant Principal Ken Bruce. Bartley's Attorney Greg Isaacs says Bartley regretted making deal almost immediately. Gregory Isaacs says, "He was a 14 year-old in a packed courtroom charged with a significant crime attempted homicide. He needed more than 3 seconds to make a life-changing decision."

Isaacs says the guilty plea wasn't voluntary and Bartley's lawyer Mike Hatmaker was ineffective. Isaacs says, "The parents were involved in decisions throughout the process. His psychologist was involved. For some strange reason when it came to making the ultimate decision for this 14 year-old, they weren't included."

The appeals court ruled Bartley should get a new trial. Now the state has 60 days to appeal the decision to Tennessee's highest court.

If they don't appeal, Isaacs will go forward with pre-trial motions getting ready for Bartley's trial. We checked with the Tennessee State Corrections Department to see if Bartley's been behaving himself in jail. Bartley's had 10 disciplinary actions in the last year including drug paraphernalia, assault on an employee and unauthorized financial transaction.


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